Elements of Early Modern Physics comprises the two long introductory chapters of J. L. Heilbron's monumental work Electricity in the 17th and 18th Centuries: A Study of Early Modern Physics plus a concluding summary of the remaining chapters. Heilbron opens with a presentation of the general principles of physical theory and a description of the institutional frameworks in which physics were cultivated in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He argues that the single most important contributor to physics in the seventeenth century was the Catholic Church. In the first half of the eighteenth century, Cartesian and Newtonian physicists disagreed over principles but thought in similar terms and cultivated the same sort of qualitative natural philosophy. Work towards an exact physics, which took on important dimensions after 1770, confounded the programs of both. Heilbron shows that by attending too closely to the Copernican revolution and the confrontation of great philosophical systems, historians have seriously misjudged the character of early modern science. This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1982.
Elements of Early Modern Physics
About the Book
Reviews"A ambitious work that deserves to become a classic in this subject."—Nature
"A superb contribution to the history of science."—American Scientist
"A work of great, indeed of delightful, learning. It results from years spent combing the archives, from wide and imaginative reading in the printed sources, and from a remarkable effort to categorize and organize a widely scattered literature of interpretation. . . . Heilbron displays a superb sensitivity to historical context in the first and most original section of the book. Here he focuses on 'Early Modern Physics and Its Cultivators.'. . . Heilbron succeeds in the most difficult and urgent task—bringing the history of science to life as a part of history."—American Historical Review
"Heilbron . . . writes with lucidity and more wit than one might expect under such a title. . . . This study is careful, and it overthrows many existing generalizations about early modern physics."—Choice
"Unquestionably a major contribution to scholarship, a landmark in the historiography of early modern science. . . . Heilbron's penetrating study provides a new perspective on early modern physics."—History of Science